Politics

Levelling-up betrayal as North gets one job for every three in the South East


The IPPR warned the £32-a-head investment from the Levelling-Up Fund compares to £413 per person lost through years of Tory austerity

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a famous local landmark

Nearly three jobs are created in London and the South East for every one in the North, a report reveals today.

Boris Johnson has failed to deliver on his “levelling-up” pledge and the UK is more divided than ever, according to the study.

The Institute for Public Policy Research North warned there was a “gulf between levelling-up promises and policy reality”.

In its annual health-check of the North’s economy, it says funding for levelling-up “pales in comparison to local government austerity”.

The 2021 allocations of the Levelling-Up Fund give a per-person investment of just £32 in the North.

Meanwhile, there has been a £413 per-person drop in the North, and a £388 drop across England, in annual council service spending over the last decade, the think tank says.

Despite the Tories trumpeting devolution, IPPR North says Britain is becoming more centralised, with public spending concentrated in central government.

“Four years ago, 95 pence in every £1 paid in tax was taken by Whitehall (compared to just 65p in Germany),” it says.

“Despite the levelling-up agenda, this has now increased to 96p.”

The think tank says for every job created in the North, nearly three were created in London and the wider South East.

Its 51-page report says: “From 2015 to 2020, 51% of all jobs created in England were located in the Greater South East (London, the South East and East) regions, which are home to 43% of the population.

“In comparison, the North is home to 28% of England’s population but only 18% of jobs growth was located in the region.

“For every job created in the North, just under three jobs were created in the Greater South East.”

In-work poverty has risen in the North from 3.4 million people in 2009/10 – just before the Conservatives returned to power – to 3.5 million in 2019/20, after a decade of Tory rule, it says.

IPPR North’s interim director Arianna Giovannini said: “Two years on from the promise to level-up the country, government rhetoric has reached fever pitch, but in reality they have once again over-promised and under-delivered on rebalancing our economy.

“To succeed in levelling-up, enabling people everywhere to live a good life, it will be necessary to build an economy hardwired for widespread prosperity, that powers the net-zero transition and provides everyone with access to high quality, lifelong education.

“Broadening and deepening devolution, and building collaborative relationships between and across all levels of government are essential components of the levelling-up jigsaw.

“But reorganising local government by the back door, false dawns, and further centralising power and funding would be a huge mistake and level-down the country.”

The Prime Minister has struggled to explain what he means by “levelling-up” and senior Cabinet members have failed to agree how it should be measured.

The Government was due to unveil its White Paper outlining how it would deliver the election-winning manifesto pledge before Christmas.

But the plan was delayed and is now due later this month.

A Levelling-Up Department spokesman claimed the IPPR analysis was “misleading as it focuses on just one part of our investment to level up the North of England”.

He added: “In addition to the £4.8bn Levelling-Up Fund, we’re providing record investment in infrastructure worth over £96bn, £12bn in affordable housing and a £2.6bn Shared Prosperity Fund to help rebalance opportunity across the UK.

“The Government will publish a White Paper that will drive forward this central mission in due course.”

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